FAA threatens shutdown of SpaceX’s Starship program at Boca Chica
Starship banned by the FAA?
They’re coming for you next: An FAA official revealed yesterday that the agency has not approved the launch tower that SpaceX is building for its Starship/Superheavy rocket in Boca Chica, Texas, and threatened that if disapproved the government would force the company to tear it down.
The Federal Aviation Administration warned Elon Musk’s SpaceX in a letter two months ago that the company’s work on a launch tower for future Starship rocket launches is yet unapproved, and will be included in the agency’s ongoing environmental review of the facility in Boca Chica, Texas. “The company is building the tower at its own risk,” an FAA spokesperson told CNBC on Wednesday, noting that the environmental review could recommend taking down the launch tower.
The FAA last year began an environmental review of SpaceX’s Starship development facility, as Musk’s company said it planned to apply for licenses to launch the next-generation rocket prototypes from Boca Chica. While the FAA completed an environmental assessment of the area in 2014, that review was specific to SpaceX’s much-smaller Falcon series of rockets.
This revelation from FAA officials is most interestingly timed, coming on the same day as this garbage article about the terrible environmental damages some activists imagine SpaceX’s launch facility might someday cause. As is usual for a mainstream news source, the article makes no reference to the wildlife preserve that surrounds the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where we have empirical proof for more than a half century that a spaceport does no harm to the environment and actually acts to protect it from development.
Nor was this the only such attack article in the past two days. Here is just a sampling:
- Boston Review: Lost in Space
- The Independent: The global super-rich are taking joyrides in space as our precious planet burns
- Jacobin: Leave the Billionaires in Space
While the last two op-eds above are partly in response to Richard Branson’s suborbital flight on July 11th, their timing and linkage to the FAA’s revelation yesterday is no accident. Forces in and out of government that are strongly hostile to private enterprise and its ability to get things done are working together hard to squelch the new renaissance in commercial space, precisely because it shows how successful capitalism and freedom are compared to the bloated, wasteful, inefficient government-run space programs that we have been saddled with for decades and have gotten us nowhere during that time.
SpaceX apparently has decided that it is better to ask forgiveness than wait for permission, knowing that if it depends on the approval of these leftist control freaks it will never get anything built. Building the tower now makes it very hard for government bureaucrats to rule against it. The company knows that what it is doing is incredibly popular with the general public. To block their effort in so public and destructive a way would send tsunami waves through government that would wash over the FAA and crush it.
SpaceX and Elon Musk should be warned however. A victory in this battle is not assured. America is now filled with people who hate freedom, despise and resent the achievement of others, and now control a powerful and wealthy government that they eagerly use to squelch what they hate. And they have clearly been moving aggressively in the past year to do so. Space X is not immune from such attacks, and could easily find itself squashed.
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It astounds me what Elon Musk does in clear violation of the law. It astounds me even more how often he gets away with it. What astounds me most of all is that his fanboys, far from acknowledging how the government is bending over backwards trying to accommodate him, attack the government for not allowing him to flout the law even more.
The law requiring an Environmental Impact Statement is 50 years old. Everyone — every individual, every business, every state and local government, every agency of the federal government — must obey it. The DoT can’t even build a bridge over a creek without one.
But apparently that law doesn’t apply to Elon Musk, as he’s off building an entire super-heavy space launch facility without a proper EIS. The EIS he has is based on a facility allowing for 12 Falcon flights a year. Nothing more than that. He can’t launch more often than that. He can’t launch bigger vehicles than that. He can’t build more or bigger facilities than what was allowed by the original EIS.
If anyone else continued on like this in violation of the law, his facility would soon be behind a police barricade. But instead they allow him to continue. And even *that* is not enough for his fanboys.
You know, we used to have a principle in this country that the law was the same for everyone. That is clearly not the case any more. Considering that even people who claim to be on the side of law and order are OK with unequal law as long as it’s a hero of theirs who gets to flout the law, I don’t think we’ll ever get that principle back.
we used to have a principle in this country that the law was the same for everyone. That is clearly not the case any more.
Do you have any other breaking news from the 1950s?
Everyone … must obey it.
So, the piles of dead birds around windmills and the death-by-shade of all the plants in solar farms has been approved? Good to know.
people who claim to be on the side of law and order are OK with unequal law as long as it’s a hero of theirs who gets to flout the law
Describing everyone, ever. Somehow it mostly seems to break Left, though. Epstein didn’t kill himself, as a particularly egregious example. But the FBI, CIA, and DOJ of the last five years contain plenty of additional examples should you wish for more.
I don’t think we’ll ever get that principle back.
You first. Why should anyone – left or right – operate with one hand tied behind their back? Standing on principle is all well and good, but if one is beaten to death while standing there, one is a principled idiot.
Environment impact statements are government takings without compensation. They should have been thrown out decades ago.
mkent: I would agree with you 100% in a different time and place. However, the law has now for more than a decade not applied to leftist Democratic Party politicians and the bureaucrats that work for them as well as the big money donars who support them. They can get away with riots, lying, investment fraud, and violence against innocent Americans, and nothing is done.
I am thus not so outraged by Musk’s actions. The law no longer really exists in America. It is now merely a political tool. Musk recognizes this. Too bad you do not.
The law needs to be once again enforced equally, against all lawbreakers. When that happens your argument will then carry some weight. Now I merely see it as an effort to use the law against those businesses you do not like.
The government has proven itself to be a corrupt, criminal enterprise…ignore it when you can.
The EIS is only required to receive FAA federal Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grant funds. The FAA does not fund spaceports, and SpaceX is not asking for, nor requesting federal funds. The only FAA requirement is that there is are anti-collision beacons on the tower, and it is marked on aeronautical maps and approach plates.
The FAA has zero control over local land use and construction. None. GO SPACEX!!!!!
mkent is happy to have laws and regulations apply to people with whom he disagrees politically. After all, the Law is a great source of control, especially over a group that respects the law in general and wants an organized and reasonably fair society. However, when leftists are in charge of enforcement, it’s perfectly moral and fine to ignore those very same laws, burn buildings, riot without consequence, and never fear that you’ll spend more than a few minutes of inconvenience in the clutches of the “justice” system. If you’re liberal you get a slap on the wrist. If you’re conservative you get ongoing solitary confinement (see some of the 1/6 protestors).
“When you are in power, I hold you to the law because your morality restrict your behavior. When I am in power, I can ignore the law because it’s not my morality.” If the past 18 months has taught the Right anything, it’s that we’ve been waging a moral fight against an immoral opponent. That will always lead to defat. The Left is just upset that we’re playing by their rules now.
Government: We want you to launch our satellite.
“But apparently that law doesn’t apply to Elon Musk, as he’s off building an entire super-heavy space launch facility without a proper EIS. The EIS he has is based on a facility allowing for 12 Falcon flights a year. Nothing more than that. He can’t launch more often than that. He can’t launch bigger vehicles than that. He can’t build more or bigger facilities than what was allowed by the original EIS.”
That’s not actually clear as a matter of law. And it’s ridiculous on it’s face. The position Elon Musk, SpaceX, and in fact of previous administrators of various agencies, is that there is a lot of leeway in determining exactly how precise and limiting this is. Clearly it’s not as limiting as “we approved 12 flights of Falcon 9 1.0, you’re not allowed to launch Falcon 9 1.1”. You can’t expect a business to have to go back for a new EIS every time they change a small part of their business plan. SpaceX is basically saying “we proposed building a rocket construction, test, and launch facility here. Our intent on eventually using this as a large scale operational facility was clear at the time of the EIS. We provided our concrete plans of the time, and those were approved, but everyone understood that plans change. We believe our current plans are still in the scope approved.” On the other hand we have control freaks who take the view you espoused, that unless it was defined and approved PRECISELY, down to the letter, it’s not valid. That view cannot, MUST NOT, be allowed to prevail, if we want this country to survive and accomplish anything other than moving piles of paperwork from one box to another, endlessly.
The Leftists best tread carefully. Placing major roadblocks in front of SpaceX could have severe repercussions for the Chinese space program.
If he gets shut down, Musk should move the facilities just over the border into Mexico. I’m sure the Mexican gov’t would be more than willing to host him.
Gregory Hill, Governor Abbot could probably declare Boca Chica’s facility to be a Martian consulate and thus not subject to US laws and regulations. It might not stand, but it would certainly be funny.
“People like us are not anti-SpaceX, and we’re not anti-space program,” he added. “It’s just,it shouldn’t be going on here.”
This is NIMBYism at its finest.
Really, on the standard in play, it’s hard to see why development of *any* kind shouldn’t be banned on the entire coast of Texas.
The position Elon Musk, SpaceX, and in fact of previous administrators of various agencies, is that there is a lot of leeway in determining exactly how precise and limiting this is.
Unfortunately, we know this really is not a rational topic of discourse for your interlocutor, who is regrettably driven by a hatred for SpaceX and its chief.
BANANA, “Build Absolutely Nothing, Anywhere, Near Anything”
Yes, it’s bananas.
If he gets shut down, Musk should move the facilities just over the border into Mexico. I’m sure the Mexican gov’t would be more than willing to host him.
ITAR would be a obstacle there, surely.
But realistically, there’s no plausible chance that the FAA will be able to shut this all down. Someone there wants to huff and puff, but in the end, there are now too many vested interests in SpaceX going forward.
Another one: how about US federal immigration law? The Obama admin just made up de facto laws to suit itself and decided to stop effectively enforcing our immigration law. Amazingly / not amazingly that was just a trial run for the capo Joe Biden admin where the entire corpus of immigration law has been suspended to facilitate permanent resettlement of illegal immigrants from all over the world, drastically, fundamentally, and irrevocably altering the character of our erstwhile “nation” and no one in the Democrat Party utters a peep. How about “sanctuary cities” thumbing their noses at the federal government when someone (Trump) actually tries to get the government to do its sacred duty? How about marijuana decriminalization in contravention of federal law in many states?
How about the extreme abuse of our intelligence apparatus against Trump? Or pissant left-wing district court judges just making up the law to “resist” the Trump admin and arrogating the power to rule by decree over the whole country to themselves? Or all the sabotage and illegal leaking by leftists throughout government to “resist” Trump? Or all the election law changes illegally ordered by judges in 2020 usurping the role of the legislatures? Or maybe Hillary Clinton and her aides getting off scot-free when they clearly and gratuitously broke the law with her home brew email server over which they routinely sent classified information illegally? Or the outright corruption and graft of the Clinton Global Foundation that no one did anything about? Or the Biden crime family for decades abusing his role in government to enrich itself? Or Hunter Biden’s lying on federal gun forms and disposing of a gun in a trash can? Or maybe Ilan Elmi (or, as she is known by her fake name Ilhan Omar) committing proven immigration fraud, marriage fraud, and tax fraud, and yet no one in government will do anything about it? Or how about the rioters (and spectators) of at the Capitol being locked up incommunicado and solitary for 6+ months while none of the “civil rights” organizations on the left lift a finger, while the left-wing rioters—who openly conspire to take down the government are not even arrested and if they are get back out on the street immediately with no charges? Or the officer who killed Ashli Babbit getting off with no charge at all and with the public not even being told who he is? Or how about Parler being taken down by Big Tech even though it was Facebook and Twitter—which are left untouched—who carried the bulk of the “coordination” of the riot? Or what about the NY attorney general going after President Trump and his organization in blatant political prosecution—name another company which has been similarly treated? Or the NY governor and attorney general harassing and attempting to destroy the nation’s oldest civil rights organization, the NRA, with patently illegal intimidation of it and businesses it engages with? Or the IRS subjecting non-leftist political groups to special scrutiny—oooohhh you’re “Tea Party” well, no non-profit status for you! and here, [ruffles head] how about an audit? How about how when left-wing Congressmen object to certifying election results they are lionized, while if right-wing ones do, they are white supremacist traitors and get their books banned?
Had enough? I can keep going all night but I have work to do. What’s happened is that our leftist gentry class rulers have decided on and devised a two-tier system of laws: one set for favored groups like illegal aliens and roughly everyone but straight white men, and left-wing NGOs and others with their preferred politics, and another set for disfavored, out-groups like those who believe in traditional American freedom or anyone who dares to associate himself with Donald Trump.
But unfortunately for them enough people are starting to catch on and realize that the America they love and that had existed, where people are not prosecuted for their politics, has been destroyed by the left. And they ask themselves, why should we keep playing the suckers who follow the laws, even ones they disagree with?
Does this apply to SpaceX? Well actually it doesn’t seem like they are doing anything illegal—they are just trying to push forward against all the vested interests arrayed against them whom they are proving to be poor stewards of the American space program and American interests in general. But if they decided to ignore whatever leftist-captured agency is trying to thwart their success over specious “environmental” review grounds (which by the way is a huge reason why in the USA we are singularly unable to build anything anymore), then more power to them! SpaceX is, nearly, single-handedly pushing America to stay ahead in space versus the Chinese and Russians, while NASA bureaucrats worry about boosting morale of people of certain religions and spending pork, and making sure scientists are wearing state-approved T-shirts, and other idiotic minutiae that will be the utter death of this nation.
It astounds me how anti-spacers mistakenly believe that something that is not yet approved for use must necessarily be against the law to build. In the pre-tyranny America that we all grew up in, we had the right to do these types of things. It was once the case, in the United States, that if it weren’t forbidden it was allowed. It is how America was built and became great. It was the foundation of American exceptionalism. It is why de Tocqueville was so impressed with America and democracy in America.
Unfortunately, we now live in a tyranny where many people feel that if it is not expressly permitted by government then it must be illegal.
b-against_mkents_feigned_naiviety: Very nice list of only a handful of the illegalities committed by Democrats and the political class in the past decades. Sadly, we both know you only listed a small sample.
“The law requiring an Environmental Impact Statement is 50 years old. Everyone — every individual, every business, every state and local government, every agency of the federal government — must obey it. The DoT can’t even build a bridge over a creek without one.”
Over the past two decades, I have helped various national and regional environmental groups challenge everything from concrete plants to levees. When it comes to EIS, the only thing everyone must do is work hand-in-glove with revolving door bureaucrats to appear to follow it. You blind faith is touching and as accurate as Schoolhouse Rock’s portrayal of the legislative process in D.C.
Interesting that this action comes as another site reports on the Chinese space agency test-hopping a reuseable booster _very_ similar to the Space-X product.
John in Indy
Are they shipping environmentalists from Hawaii now?
Have the environmentalists explained exactly how rocket launches effect the nature in the area?
Or are they afraid if a crash? If they are afraid if a crash they should stop all oil tankers from floating in the Gulf of Mexico. They would cause more damage in the long and short run.
mkent says: Elon repeatedly violates the law.
Zimmerman replies: He can do anything he wants because….DEMOCRATS!
Not the worst logic I’ve seen on this site, but it’s pretty high up there.
Elon should have a commercial with victims of the Unabomber…who actually did lose opposable thumbs and loggers hurt by ‘monkey wrenching’ that they are part of the environment too. They ban that tower…then I will call for the abolishment of the FAA and EPA both!
“Industrial Society and it’s Future”
“The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers”
(Henry VI, Part 2)
Elon Musk / Akira the Don
“Among the Stars” (2018)
Musk is already three moves ahead of Washington, he’s gonna flag the Phobos and Deimos platforms in Liberia and ignore the FAA completely. Buying, re-fitting, and operating two deep sea rigs might be more expensive then hiring an army of DC lobbyists, but staying on schedule and not having to go kiss ass has an intrinsic value.
Just how does the FAA happen to govern construction projects on the ground?
I can see them requiring lights on really tall towers but what do they have to do with this tower?
The rocket maybe and yes. But the tower? No.
The EPA has already approved rocket launches and placed no limit on them.
I am thus not so outraged by Musk’s actions.
Much as I am not so outraged by VW’s gaming of emissions testing, given how environmental policy has been so driven by hysteria, goalpost-moving, and cult belief.
They met the letter of the law, in a manner reminiscent of James T Kirk’s response to the Kobayashi Maru.